CHAMPION PERFORMANCE SETS UP REAL DATE NICELY

Bert van Marwijk needed few words to describe how he was feeling after his side had dismantled Fenerbahçe’s Champions League hopes with an imposing performance in Istanbul. ‘I’m proud and I’m happy,’ the coach said at the end of a match that went largely to as he had hoped and planned.

Ahead of the game Van Marwijk had made sure his men knew that Fenerbahçe would come at them with all guns blazing in the opening period. And he had also forecast that his team would always create chances. Operation Istanbul went precisely that way. The Rotterdammers found it heavy-going for twenty minutes, but gradually they started to find each other with passes and give the Turks more than a run for their money. Ultimately the 2-0 win was no more than Feyenoord deserved. ‘Fenerbahçe did put us under pressure at the start. They were very dangerous, but the Turks never created any real clear-cut opportunities. It was a phase we had to come through by sticking to our game. We managed to do that well. After twenty minutes or so we started to show more initiative. We had the guts to play football and the chances came automatically. From then on in I was relatively relaxed on the bench, apart from the missiles that were raining down on me of course. That why at half time I said that the lads shouldn’t retreat. I knew that we would create chances.’ Van Marwijk confidence grew after Ono opened the scoring. ‘At that moment I basically knew we wouldn’t give it away. Fenerbahçe had to score three times to beat us. I couldn’t see them doing it.’ Missiles aside, Van Marwijk clearly enjoyed the occasion and the way the home fans got behind their team in the stadium. ‘It may sound strange but I thought the atmosphere was fantastic. I thought I’d experienced something in the away game at Rangers, but this was exceptional. The chorus of whistles that welcomes you, I never heard its like before. Luckily we were prepared for the conditions. I thought my players did very well to turn the passion in the stands into positive energy.’ Van Marwijk heaped praise on his team after the latest in a sequence of make-or-break encounters. ‘We knew we had two tough weeks early in the season, with five important games in a row. We’ve won four of those five. The last in the series is the Super Cup game against Real Madrid. The victories these past ten days, especially this evening’s, ensure that we travel to Monaco in a good frame of mind.’
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